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Summer Love – Moving On When It's Over

The days are shorter and cooler. A tune begins to play on the radio. You can feel your heart tighten. What used to be just a background melody has become your song, and you are left wondering how and why something so wonderful had to end so fast? The feelings of sadness are almost overwhelming as you reflect on the intense love affair you never expected to find and now feel completely lost without.

What is it about summer love? How can it seem so right, yet fade so often with the advent of fall? More importantly, how do we accept this loss while moving forward with the routines of life and a belief that a better and stronger love will happen for us?

We should begin with an acknowledgement that relationships start in different ways, under different circumstances; and their unique elements help to determine their duration and the course they will take. Summertime is the season of vacations, new adventures and the opportunity to meet and connect with people who are in a life transition, live in far away places and/or are looking for an experience apart from their “real” lives. Therefore, time and geography are often central to how we view a summer romance and what our expectations, hopes and outcomes for it will be.

I received an email from a young woman shortly after Labor Day. She had just come back from a summer of living and working at the beach. Even though she was dating someone “back home”, she found herself spending more and more time with a male co-worker. “We felt an instant attraction”, she wrote. “Before I knew it, I was getting serious, and thought he felt the same.” As summer drew to a close he made his plans to return to school, thanking her for a great time and telling her he would never forget her. She couldn’t believe that it was over. Her question, “what do I do now?”

If you have had a similar recent experience, the following may be helpful to you.

* The first step is to appropriately acknowledge your feelings. Don’t dismiss or bottle up the sadness, loss and anger. They will not just go away, you have to own them and give voice to them. Since it is normal to remember a lost relationship as “perfect”, take care to examine it in a realistic light. Otherwise, you could be left with the belief that you will never find a love like this again.

* Take care not to focus on getting the relationship back. This negative obsession can cause you to become “stuck” as you fill your thoughts and time with second-guessing, reexamining, emailing, and phone calls that will most likely be resented and/or ignored. When the other person clearly communicates that it’s over, it is.

* Utilize the support of friends and family. Let the people who care about you offer their support in the form of good listening and caring companionship. This positive energy will help carry you through the first stages of grieving. If necessary, seek professional counseling.

* Focus on yourself and your goals. If you are in transition, set achievable objectives that keep you on track. This will help you bolster your self-esteem through accomplishment and greater success.

* Be careful not to utilize coping mechanisms that will cause you greater harm. Common examples include self-medication with alcohol and illegal drugs. Rushing into a new relationship can also prove to be destructive and counter to the healing process.

Most of all, don’t rush the process. In time, you will realize that no experience is wasted. The learning and growing that you have done will offer you new tools in building and sustaining a lasting and healthy relationship.

© Toni Coleman

Toni Coleman, MSW is a psychotherapist, relationship coach and founder of http://www.consum-mate.com. As a recognized expert, Toni has been quoted in many local and national publications including; The Chicago Tribune, The Orlando Sentinel, New York Daily News, Indianapolis Star and Newsweek newspapers and Family Circle, Cosmo Style, Tango, Men’s Health, Star (regularly quoted body language expert), and People magazines. She has been featured on abcnews.com, discovery.health.com, aolnews.com, MSN.com, and Match.com. Toni is also the featured relationship coach in “The Business And Practice Of Coaching,” ( Norton, September 2005); and is the author of the forward for,” Winning Points With The Woman In Your Life, One Touchdown At A Time” (Simon and Schuster, November 2005). From March 2005 until December 2005, she was a weekly contributing commentator (love and dating coach) on the KTRS Radio Morning Show, (St. Louis, MO). Toni is a member of The International Coach Federation, The International Association of Coaches and The National Association of Social Workers.

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